Beginning

Feb
14

Culture Makers + Word Breakers

The language we choose in our teaching changes the worlds children inhabit now and those they will build in the future. — Peter Johnston, Opening Minds At Opal School, the words we choose matter to us, and they are noticed as being distinctive by others. During a recent Q&A session with educators from another school district, […]
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By Tara Papandrew | Beginning
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Jan
20

Boys Only Ice Cream

“Boys only ice cream! Boys only ice cream!” a child called out. Ice cream shops are part of outside play for Opal Beginning School. One of our outside destinations is a beautiful woven twig sculpture with lots of little windows that turn into many things – but most commonly it transforms into an ice cream […]
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By Amy Gannon | Beginning
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Jan
18

The Secrets of Wire: Play, Reflection and Relationships with Risk

As my colleagues and I continued to think together about our big idea of transformation and some of our research questions, we wondered what materials might lend themselves to playing with this big idea. Wire came to mind as a material to explore together: it is easily transformed, offering these young children a concrete experience […]
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Dec
09

Intention Setting and Habits of Mind

Last March, Cedar Teacher Caroline Wolfe wrote a blog post about some of the resources that we use at Opal School when thinking about goals and expectations for children, which includes a body of work by Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick identifying 16 habits of mind to use when you are confronted with a […]
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By Kimie Fukuda | Beginning
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Oct
28

Learning to Walk and Talk (and Write)

When I first began as an assistant teacher long ago, I attended a parent meeting at the school on the topic of young children and writing.  I remember someone sharing that their 4 year old child didn’t write but scribbled.  The teacher shared that scribbling (and other mark-making) IS writing — a necessary stepping stone […]
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Oct
22

Surprises

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought. ― Albert Szent-Gyorgyi  As the children shared images and reflections of their trip to the Portland Farmer’s Market, they stumbled upon a discovery — that there were many unexpected surprises of all kinds within our trip together. We wondered: How might the sharing […]
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By Kimie Fukuda | Beginning . Teaching and Learning
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Oct
21

Riding the Chocolate Train

Within a social-constructivist context, shared experiences offer children a chance to build their understandings of themselves, each other, and the world. Earlier this week, the Cedar community visited the Farmer’s Market in downtown Portland. This rich environment — filled with a variety of colors, textures, flavors and scents — provided us with a memorable, multi-sensory experience. In the days […]
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By Tara Papandrew | Beginning
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Oct
04

In Collaboration with the Natural World

“The wind comes creeping, it calls to me to come go exploring. It sings of the things that are to be found under the leaves. It whispers the dreams of the tall fir trees. It does pipe the gentle song the forest sings on gray days.”  ~ Opal Whiteley   At Opal School, we look […]
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By Kimie Fukuda | Beginning
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Oct
04

Partner Explore: Connecting with Materials, Ideas and Each Other

Recently, as the children have been getting more familiar with the routines and setting of school, they are becoming more comfortable with one another, too. As a result, they are revealing deeper expressions of who they are while testing the strengths and limits of their newfound friendships. This is a natural and important next phase for building trust […]
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By Tara Papandrew | Beginning
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Sep
29

What lives inside of joy?

In the days before the children arrived at school, my colleagues and I considered how to prepare the classroom environments and we developed our intentions for the year.  We wondered together about the role that risk plays in the big idea of transformation, our intention for this school year. We wondered… What is the relationship between […]
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